Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award

Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award

In 1986, the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presented its first Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award. The award is named in honor of the late Justice Albert Tate, Jr., who served on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Louisiana State Supreme Court. The Award is presented for outstanding contributions to the Louisiana system of criminal justice and is dedicated to constitutional principles. The award is designed to honor individuals for dedication to, or in defense of, those constitutional principles for which Justice Tate stood. This is LACDL’s most prestigious award.

2019 Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award Recipient
Ben Cohen
Ben Cohen has been involved in capital defense representation and broader criminal justice reform work since 1997.  Cohen is currently Of Counsel at Louisiana’s Promise of Justice Initiative. He worked at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, and then the Capital Appeals Project. Working with teams of attorneys and others, Cohen has been a part of efforts that secured the exoneration of two clients, outright reversals for clients in six cases, sentencing phase relief in more than a dozen other instances.  Four of the individuals that Cohen represented on Louisiana’s death row were ultimately set free.  Cohen has been involved in the litigation of four cases before the United States Supreme Court, including the landmark decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana, foreclosing the expansion of the death penalty to non-homicide offenses.   

In addition to death penalty work, Cohen has been engaged in criminal justice reform and litigating civil rights issues for two decades.  This work began with Neal Walker addressing the exclusion of African-American citizens from grand jury service in Louisiana.  Cohen was part of a large coalition of lawyers that engaged in habeas corpus litigation for prisoners detained after Hurricane Katrina, and played small roles in the effort to build a better legal system in the aftermath.  Cohen’s work on non-unanimous juries was noted in a series of articles by the Advocate, which brought attention to this problem, and in March of 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Ramos v. Louisiana to address the constitutionality of Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury trial provision.

In addition to the four cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, Cohen has been involved in three cases that were summarily granted, vacated and remanded, and two others in which justices dissented from the denial of certiorari.  Ben has also written several law review articles including on the racial geography of the death penalty.  His work was cited by Justices Breyer and Ginsburg in their dissent in Glossip v. Gross, calling to attention the question whether the death penalty was constitutional.  
Cohen graduated from the University of Michigan, School of Law in 1996, and clerked at the AIDS Law Project with Mark Heywood and Zackie Achmat and for Judge Edwin Cameron, subsequently appointed as Justice on the South African Constitutional Court.  He and his wife are the proud parents of two sons.  

Past Recipients: 
1986 Camille Gravel
1987 Millard Farmer
1988 Sam D'Amico
1989 F. Irvin Dymond
1990 John A. Dixon
1991 George W. Pugh
1992 Judge Calvin Johnson
1993 Gerald H. Goldstein
1994 Samuel S. Dalton
1995 Sister Helen Prejean
1996 Judge James L. Dennis
1997 Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr.
1998 Julian R. Murry, Jr.
1999 Judget H. Ginger Berrigan
2000 James E. Boren
2001 Robert Glass
2002 Lennie F. Perez
2003 Tom Lorenzi
2004 Clive Stafford Smith
2005 Phyllis Mann
2006 Denny LeBoeuf
2007 Walt Sanchez
2008 Henry Walker
2009 Jean Faria
2010 Tony Champagne
2011 Lisa Wayne
2012 John DiGiulio
2013 Nick Trenticosta
2014 James Looney
2015 Derwyn Bunton
2016 Rebecca Hudsmith
2017 S. Christie Smith IV
2018 Robert Toale
2019 Ben Cohen